I came across this saying recently and it rings so true for the parenting journey.  We think it is the big things that count the most, but we forget all the many small things that contribute to shaping and raising our children.”  Nikki Bush, creative parenting expert and inspirational speaker, shares a few of these from their daily family life.

We have a daily commitment to eat dinner together as a family, around the dining room table.  It wasn’t something that we strategized, rather it flowed out of our sense of family.

It is ‘how we do things around here’.  Last week my 18-year-old said that dinner time is one of his favourite times in the day and he couldn’t imagine life without this moment of connection, lively conversation and celebration of family.  Small hinges swing big doors.

What family rituals do you have that create indelible memories in your children’s hearts and minds? About two years ago, my youngest said to his dad, “Remember ‘flap your wings and fly’?”  He was referring to their morning ritual when they were small.   My husband used to make us almond fruit shakes for breakfast with the help of the boys, but there were fun and games attached to this domestic activity.   Before the children were allowed to press the button on the liquidiser, he would make them flap their arms like crazy, then lift them up and fly them around the kitchen, landing them on the counter top next to the liquidiser.  Only then could they hit the button and watch the fruit, nuts and juice blend together.  What warm memories they have of this daily bonding moment with their dad.  Small hinges swing big doors.

Doing chores together can create lasting memories while also ensuring that your children acquire skills for life.  What can you think of that you have done together that your children have adopted?  My husband has taught our children how to clean cars, bicycles and boats after use.  They have had such fun with him over the years, and as they have grown older they have taken over many of these chores with amazing competence.  Dad has always expected the highest standards from them and they have lived up to that expectation.  I watch my boys take responsibility for looking after their possessions with great pride and much gratitude to their dad for raising them up to the task.  Small hinges swing big doors.

The many small hinges my husband has ‘installed’ in their lives over time, definitely swing big doors.

Childhood lessons are not taught in isolation but within our everyday activities.  As we go about our lives and include our children in them, we pass on important beliefs and values about life, possessions and people.  Children are watching their parents (whether they are together or apart), primary caregivers, and other important adults in their lives.  We are the role models, the hidden curriculum of life for our children.  We partner with each other in this journey called parenting.

Nikki Bush – co-author of Future-proof Your Child (Penguin, 2008), and Easy Answers to Awkward Questions (Metz Press, 2009)

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